Review: Yakima MOD Cargo System

Ross Ballot
by Ross Ballot
Photo Credit: Ross Ballot

People–off-roaders in particular–are always looking for ways to store things in the cargo area of their vehicle. The options range from super-cheap fabric totes to high-end, beautifully designed and engineered systems that are tailor-built for certain makes and models.

But until now there hasn’t been a happy middle ground, something modular that can be removed from a vehicle or swapped from one to another with ease, and that’s where the Yakima MOD comes in.

If you’re like me, and hopefully you aren’t, you’ve perused hundreds if not thousands of ways to keep tools, recovery gear, and other assorted cargo safely in place in the cargo area of your vehicle. Not wanting to commit to something that permanently mounts in my vehicle’s trunk, and not wanting to pony up the money to buy one or time to build one, I’ve gone through a half-dozen toolboxes trying to find the perfect solution to keep all my kit safe and secure.

From recycling old ATV cargo boxes to using off-the-shelf Amazon or Home Depot offerings, it’s always felt like a half-measure to the actual end goal.

The ideal solution would offer a variety of features. It would be modular, so components can be added or removed as needed; it would feature a lock, for added security; it would have solid tie-downs, for safety in the event of an event that would dislodge anything loose in the trunk; and, it would be something that can move from one vehicle to another. Yakima’s MOD checks all those boxes.

We've stashed our recovery and repair gear in the MOD's bottom drawer and like how it gives room to organize everything neatly. | Photo Credit: Ross Ballot

At its core, the MOD HomeBase is a modular drawer system, and the basic platform serves as a storage system as well as the foundation on which you can choose your own add-on adventure.

The HomeBase features a metal drawer, risers for keeping things off the floor of the trunk, a side, out-of-the-way handle, four movable adjustable-length tie downs. A lock is optional, but all MODs are outfitted with a spot for one should you choose to add it later on. It’s also worth noting that the MOD system is available in multiple sizes, so it can fit a variety of vehicles.

We use ours to store tools, recovery gear, and spare parts for off-road adventures, but that’s just one of the use cases. It would also be a great unit in which you could keep camping gear, work equipment, or other hobby-based items, like RC cars and parts. Hardcore overlanders can also add a refrigerator slider, something usually sold as a clunky standalone.

Photo Credit: Ross Ballot

Overall, we are quite enjoying the Yakima MOD system as a platform in (and on) which we can keep our otherwise disorganized belongings safe and secure in one place. Aside from the left hand side of the drawer being a bit looser than ideal, which is probably a consequence of heavy towing gear pushing against it while the truck was parked on a steep hill, we only have good things to say about this product. The build quality is fantastic in traditional Yakima fashion, and the usability for something like this is high.

We especially like how it’s reconfigurable; when not going on adventures that require a lot of gear, we run it in “sport mode,” which is just the Topper with the GearTote atop it so things like a stroller (or travel potty) can sit astride it in the cargo area. Our one criticism is the tie-down straps, which we wish were of the ratchet style instead of the pull-tight kind.

It’s been a while since there was what felt like a truly new innovation in the world of overlanding and general cargo hauling in the trunk of an SUV, so the Yakima MOD system feels like it might actually be just that. It’s a high-quality product that we can recommend wholeheartedly, and something we look forward to using and showing off every time the truck is in action. Yakima might have missed the big overlanding boom by just releasing the MOD in 2024, but it did a good job of it and made the wait feel worthwhile. It’s not cheap, but what it offers is unmatched.

For more information on the Yakima MOD, visit Yakima’s website.

Ross Ballot
Ross Ballot

Ross hosts The Off the Road Again Podcast. He has been in the off-road world since he was a kid riding in the back of his dad’s YJ Wrangler. He works in marketing by day and in his free time contributes to Hooniverse, AutoGuide, and, and in the past has contributed to UTV Driver, ATV Rider, and Everyday Driver. Ross drives a 2018 Lexus GX460 that is an ongoing build project featured on multiple websites and the podcast.

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